The Self Defeating Left

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Ben Cohen
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Bob Cesca on the Left's extraordinary ability to destroy itself any time it gets power:

The ultimate impact of the meme is "if everyone's wrong, then no one's wrong." One of the leading reasons why Democrats (liberals in the broadest sense) don't retain power for very long in the post-Reagan era is that as soon as we attain power, we engage in this navel-gazing, self-flagellating behavior and attack our own people -- often as fiercely as we attack the right. This tends to strip power from Democrats by dividing the message of activists, rather than focusing it in a unified direction -- and it ultimately forces Democrats to move to the right where more electoral power exists, and where people are more ideologically focused.

A low level war is raging in progressive circles with writers like Bob, Chez Pazienza and Matt Osborne taking on 'hard' left writers like Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamsher. The main criticism leveled by the 'soft' left is that the 'hard' left mercilessly attacks their own at the expense of progress. Cesca has gone as far as to say that Greenwald should no longer be considered a progressive if everything he does works to take down the Obama Administration.

I find myself somewhere in the middle - I recognize the value that writers like Greenwald bring to the national discourse, but also get frustrated with their tunnel vision. Greewald is totally uncompromising in his journalism and refuses to engage in politics. He attacks regardless of political affiliation and does not feel it is his job to help Democrats get elected. Generally speaking, I think Greenwald is right on most issues. His merciless reporting on Obama's continuation of the war in Afghanistan is absolutely necessary, and his position that the media is completely subservient to power is spot on.

However, politics can never about absolutes. It is a messy game of compromise and back room dealings, and those who play the game well get ahead. The GOP has perfected the art of smashing the Democrats regardless of whether they are in power or not, and have radically changed the political and economic landscape of America. They have drastically rolled back the role of the state: chipping away at welfare, health care, national infrastructure, environmental legislation, education and health and safety with reckless abandon.

The only way to stop it is to elect Democrats and try to unify behind them. Most Democrats are not left-wing in the traditional sense of the word. Few would be regarded as liberal in other Western democracies, and most have been bought out by various corporate interests.

But they are better than Republicans, and without them, America is at the mercy of a party that now only functions as a rubber stamp for the interests of big business and the mega rich. The Democrats at least keep issues like social security and education as core, untouchable principles, whereas Republicans would eliminate them in a heart beat.

So yes, Greenwald and Hamsher etc might be right, but putting principle above progress means just that: No progress.